Social media is still new to the boating industry. And according to the leading journalists organization, they shouldn’t be overlooked as avenues for buying and selling product, and the all important “monetizing of information” (or turning stories into dollars).
The take-away lesson from the Boating Writers International (BWI) meeting at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show: Journalists need to understand how to use these new media to their advantage.
BWI hosted a panel discussion about social media – Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Blogging. Panelists included Glen Justice, editor of online magazine MadMariner.com and former New York Times staff writer, Kim Kavin, author of the top charter blog – CharterWave.com and Rich Lazzara, vice president of Lazzara International Yachts. Rich has the distinction of having the top boating Twitter site with 1,100 followers. He’s been on Twitter since it’s inception and authored a “How-to” guide for Twitter called Twitter Rockstar. Rich knows how to monetize information.
“There are 20 million users of Twitter, 100 million YouTube users, and 250 million people using Facebook,” said BWI board member and panel moderator Michael Sciulla. “Let’s face it, the world isn’t cutting down trees and writing just in print anymore.”
Internet journalism is one way for journalists, freelancers in particular, to broaden both their reader and income bases. “[But] if you’re going to do something that is Internet-related, you’ve got to think how you’re going to make money. Good ideas are simply not enough,” said Glenn Justice, editor of online magazine MadMariner.com.
Justice told a record turnout of members that the key to Internet success is generating traffic, and lots of it. “Of every 10,000 visitors to a Web site, 1 percent – about 100 – click on a product offering. Of those who click, just 1 to 3 percent – one to three visitors – actually buy something,” said Justice.
“It is a brutal equation to have to acquire tens of thousands of visitors and entice them to click,” he said. Justice uses all the top Web tools – Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook – to direct visitors to MadMariner.com.
He said Web journalism must be entrepreneurial. Journalists setting up their own Web sites can make money from Google ads, affiliate marketing (pay-per-click ads), selling ads for their own sites, charging subscription fees, syndicating blogs, and using sites to advertise services (writing stories, filming videos, writing content for others).
Kim Kavin writes two blogs and 12 to 15 stories a month, syndicates her daily blog, and is launching a blog site featuring the work of a dozen recreational boating journalists who are also members of BWI.
“BoatersMouth.com should carry 250 blog articles per month,” said Kavin.
“How many publishers do we have in the group today?” Rich Lazarra asked us. I was the only one who raised a hand. “We’re all publishers these days,” said Lazzara. “If you’re not blogging today, it’s something you need to do.”
Breaking up into small groups enabled some members to garner more wisdom from the panelists. Speaking with Rich Lazarra, I asked him how one could take advantage of a large reader base.
“Start with a survey,” he told me. “Ask your readers what they most want to learn and how much they might pay to join a community that will offer them information, education, specials and exclusive content.”
Time to get to work, eh?